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10 Mistakes When Naming A Business

Hard to Spell or Pronounce

When trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace, many turn to interesting or different spellings but this can end up being difficult for customers to spell, pronounce or even hear. This is one of the worst things a name can do for your business as without a reliable name, how can someone find or recommend you? No matter how great your product or service, if someone has to try too many times Googling your name in various spellings they may give up completely. An example of this could be Piktochart, I love their product but every time I go to search for them I spell it “Pictochart” and get confusing results. Think to yourself; “What is the most logical spelling for my company name?” This could be a better option to avoid confusion.


Generic Name

Yes, you don’t want a hard to spell name but even more so you don’t want a generic name. Especially with tech startups these days, the names can be so vague they seem to just be an amalgamation of a tech word with a non-tech word. Quora is one that springs to mind. What is it? What does it do? Most people will have no idea and so it fades into obscurity almost instantly. Generic names make it very hard for your business to get recognized online and for return customers to find you. A prime example is an online program for creating process maps I signed up for. It was called Mapshot or something vague like that but for the life of me, I can’t remember. I can’t remember the name and so I certainly won’t be a return customer.


Irrelevant Names

A name can be catchy, powerful and thought-provoking but if it’s not related to your business then it has no merit. Your name needs to tell potential customers about what you do, what industry you operate in or something about your idea. Take Netflix as an example again. Although the name worked when the company shifted to online streaming, the name still meant something. This is a good example of how a name needs to represent a company, only shortlist names that indicate the nature or industry of your business.


Conflicting Trademarks

This is such an easy mistake to make! You are busy building your customer base and creating an incredible product but forget to check if the name you are operating under is even available! This can spell the end of your company before it even begins. Although Google is pretty reliable, you should also search on any government websites and use tools like Namobot to search for available domain names and social media usernames. This will ensure you don’t run into issues later in the business lifespan.


Limiting to one location or category

Think big! Who knows how big your company could get? In this, the age of globalization you could be crossing international borders very quickly and you don’t want to be limited by your name or fighting against it when you try to expand into a new market. Take Netflix as an example, the name has no association to the original medium they operated under which was DVD rental. So when the company transitioned to online streaming there was no conflict with their name and so could continue to trade as ‘Netflix’. If Netflix had been named Maildisk instead, this type of transition would have been impossible.


Improperly Studying the Market/Competitors

Whatever idea you have, chances are someone else out there has the same one. In any case, you should do a thorough competitor and market analysis. You should completely research any possible competitors including similar names. Business names are more than just your ‘@’ handle on social media, its central to your brand strategy so you don’t want any kind of overlap with a competitor or that could spell disaster when trying to differentiate. At the same time, you don’t want to miss out on the simplest social media handle too. If you end up having to use @MikesITConsult1963 instead of @MikesITConsult it’s going to be a little more difficult for customers to find you on social media. When originally creating their web browser, Mozilla named it Firebird but then discovered the name was used by other open source developers so changed the name to Firefox.


Unconventional Spelling

We all know that the first step to being a ‘cool’ company is replacing the ‘s’ in your name with a ‘z’. But unconventional spelling can be extremely counterproductive when it comes to marketing your business. I think of the window blind company ‘Wynstan’ who in all their radio ads have to say ‘Wynstan with a ‘y’’ as our first reflex is to misspell the company name.



Not Testing Enough

One of the best ways to identify the best name for your business is to test it with the target market. Some things you can learn from such market research include: Are they able to pronounce it correctly? How long does it take to pronounce correctly? Can they spell it correctly? What is their perception of the name? What connotations do they take from the name? Do they remember the name after a few hours? These metrics will tell you everything you need to improve about your chosen name or even if you should scrap it completely. This can also help narrow down your choices and see other perspectives than your own.


Following Trends

How many business names have you seen in the last few years ending with ‘and co.’? And not too many years ago a huge number of businesses adopted the trendy lowercase ‘i’ before their name to associate with the thriving Apple brand. These are trends that will damage and date your business in the future. Try not to be part of such trends as, over time, your business will fell out of touch.